A little more on PC backstories. I like them short, concise and packed with ideas. To illustrate, I’ll give you an example backstory for a cosmic horror PC.
The son of a respected professor father from a prestigious university and a renown physician mother, Dr. Arthur Stillman lived a comfortable life, attending the best schools and universities. After finishing his post graduate work, he struggled finding employment until he received a position at Rhinefall University in west Pennsylvania as a professor of parapsychology.
While respected by most of his colleagues, his unconventional theories have drawn criticism and ridicule from several prominent academicians in his field, most notably, the coldly skeptical Dr. Henry Turn from Carrow College in upstate New York.
Within these two paragraphs and three sentences, we have plenty of plot hooks that can draw Professor Stillman and his companions into many adventures.
Perhaps, after consulting with the player, we discover that the good professor’s parents are dead and gone, but his father’s academic reputation lives on, until a former rival at this prestigious university begins to challenge the elder Stillman’s theories.
Maybe a former colleague of his father comes calling with information he was to keep secret until the PC was of a certain age.
There could be a mysterious plague affecting the local area, and the PC discovers that his mother treated similarly afflicted patients, and he must go looking through her medical notes for clues to the illness and its source.
His academic rival, Dr Turn might come calling, needing help with a supernatural problem that he cannot come to admit it supernatural in nature. Perhaps it’s all a ruse to further discredit the PC.
We also have two fictitious universities: Rhinefall and Carrow. Are they rival schools, perhaps both competing for a lucrative government research grant?
The possibilities go on and on, and if you add similar backstories from other PCs, the combinations of plot ideas — fashioned personally to the PCs — become nearly endless.